Avigdor Liberman
Avigdor LibermanMiriam Alster/Flash 90

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman praised the approval of 31 new housing units in Hevron Monday.

"I have a great personal commitment to the Jewish settlement in Hevron in particular and to the the settlement in Judea and Samaria in general, and we are acting responsibly to increase settlement. We are doing this wisely in spite of the pressure and the objections," Liberman said.

"Hevron is one of the pillars of our existence as a people and a nation, and building it is the realization of the Zionist vision," added the defense minister.

The Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration issued 31 building permits Monday for a planned housing project in the Jewish community of Hevron, the first permits for new Jewish construction in the ancient city in decades.

The Civil Administration’s licensing subcommittee issued the permits for a planned neighborhood dubbed the ‘Hezekiah quarter’ of Hevron.

Despite the issuing of the permits, the new housing project still faces a number of hurdles before construction may begin. The Arab municipality of Hevron declared it would petition the Supreme Court against the housing project, claiming that it has full authority over all construction projects and land allocation in the city. The municipality made this assertion despite a recent decision by the Defense Ministry to separate the Jewish community in Hevron from the Arab municipality. A subsequent determination by the Justice Ministry found that the Arab city’s claims over property owned by the Jewish community were null and void.

The Civil Administration is expected to issue additional permits over the next two days for hundreds of other housing units in Israeli towns across Judea and Samaria, including 296 in Beit El, promised by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu five years ago, a promised he repeated often over the last five years.